The Sacramento Kings put forth a tremendous defensive effort against the Chicago Bulls on Monday. The question was if the Kings could sustain that effort. The Kings started strong on defense, but the fourth quarter was a disaster. Sacramento watched a 20 point lead evaporate, barely holding on for the win. The Kings were active on defense through the first three quarters, though. Challenging passing lanes, creating turnovers, and contesting shots. While you'd like to see it for the full game, three quarters of good defense is three more quarters than most Kings games this season.
The Kings were led by DeMarcus Cousins once again. Cousins finished with 25 points, 10 rebounds, and four assists. He's notched a double double in 17 of the last 18 games he's appeared in. Cousins was active on both ends of the court, simply overpowering Toronto's big men throughout the night. I really like Jonas Valaciunas as a young big man, but Cousins is simply on a different level. The Raptors regularly threw double teams and occasionally triple teams at Cousins, but could not slow him down.
Rudy Gay chipped in 24 points, 10 rebounds, four steals, and three assists against his former team. Ho hum.
Isaiah Thomas also had a big night for the Kings. He finished with 22 points on just 12 shots, and added five assists. As Sean Thomas of News 10 pointed out, Isaiah seemed particularly motivated by the opportunity to go at Greivis Vasquez.
Marcus Thornton got off to a hot start, but was knocked out of the game shortly before halftime. Thornton took a hard hit fighting for an offensive rebound and hit the ground hard. The initial diagnosis was nothing serious, a bruised hip and bruised arm, but it was enough to take Thornton out for the remainder of the night. Despite the limited run, Thornton still finished with 12 points on 9 shots.
Jason Thompson also had a great night. He played great defense, which is becoming the norm for JT, and finished with 10 rebounds and nine points.
Derrick Williams did not play. Officially he was active, but was being held out with a sprained foot. Many suspected Coach Malone might punish Williams for his attempted self-oop in the fourth quarter of the Chicago game. If that was the case, it was done discreetly.
Raptors fans will surely be upset by the final minutes of the game. Kyle Lowry drained a three that would've cut the Kings lead to 2, but was called for an offensive foul. It appeared iffy when viewed live and was a terrible call on the replay. Lowry's reaction to the call earned him his second technical foul and subsequent ejection. Sacramento's been on the short end of the stick when it comes to refs, but tonight the Kings got the advantage. This will surely be overlooked the next time a bad call hurts the Kings, but it is worth noting. For more on the opponent's perspective, be sure to check out Raptors HQ.